Category Archives: Running


I signed up for the Nike half-marathon in Washington D.C. on April 28th. Commence with the name calling and totally justified mockery.

Wait, what did I just do???

Wait, what did I just do???

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So I had a crazy idea the other night: I should run a half-marathon. So what if I’m only running five miles now? And so what if I’m still sloooooow? I met a marathon runner the other day who told me that if I can run 6 miles, I can run 13. And that is good enough for me.

So I started looking for half-marathons in the springtime, ideally someplace really awesome. Here are a couple options I found in April and May (I refuse to run a race in March when it’s still winter in my book).

1. Divas Half Marathon, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, April 28, 2013: In short, a bunch of women run 13.1 miles in pink clothing and tutus, which is not really my thing, but the race course looks incredible.

Myrtle Beach Half-Marathon

2. Gulf Coast Half Marathon, Pensacola Beach, Florida, April 7, 2013: What can I say? I’m a sucker for the water.

Pensacola Half-Marathon

3. Escape to the Palisades Half Marathon, Fort Lee, New Jersey, May 5, 2013: This race is a little hilly for my taste (I prefer my races flat as a pancake), but it’s is an easy location to get to and the view of the New York skyline and George Washington Bridge is probably beautiful.

Fort Lee Half-Marathon

4. Key Biscayne Half Marathon, Key Biscayne, Florida, April 14, 2013: Running over islands. Awesome.

Biscayne Half-Marathon

5. Flying Pirate Half Marathon, Outer Banks, North Carolina, April 14, 2013:  This race runs along the water and past the Wright Brothers memorial.

Outer Banks Half-Marathon

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It’s been four weeks since I started running again which means I can totally dole out advice without sounding too pretentious, right? Don’t answer that. Pretentious or not, here are ten things I’ve learned in my short and painful new running career.

DO enter a race. I was a skeptic until I tried it. This past Sunday, I ran in my first 5K, and I feel like I got a new lease on running. Suddenly, I’m motivated to run faster, beat my race time, set new records, etc. This new version of me probably won’t last very long, but it makes me feel a little bit more like a runner and a little bit less like an imposter. For now.

DO take the time (and money) to make good running playlists. Running without music (or to bad music) is pretty much the equivalent of earthly purgatory. Someplace in hell, there is a series of treadmills, and robbers and other no-goodniks are forced to run for hours to Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind. True story.

DO invest in a pair of running pants that make your thighs looks less jiggly than they really are. This is assuming you have jiggly thighs. If you don’t, well, then I hate you, and why are you reading this?

DON’T throw things at runners who are much faster than you. Trust me. It is not socially acceptable, and we’ve already established that you can’t outrun them.

DON’T expect to look like Lolo Jones in three weeks’ time. You will only end up disappointed. I should know.


DO run even when you don’t feel like it, even if it’s just a mile or two. This may be one of the hardest pieces of advice to follow through on, but eventually the sucky days will lead to mildly less sucky days and then even more less sucky days.

DO admire your newly developing muscles in the privacy of your home. DON’T ask people to feel your newly developing muscles, unless those folks already know that you’re a weirdo, and then by all means, go ahead. FYI: They will probably say no.

DO bribe yourself. It’s okay to reward yourself for hitting the pavement. Ignore the diehard runners who tell you “Running is its own reward.” That’s a heaping pile of bull. Running, especially during those painful first weeks, feels like a punishment and a really evil one at that – not a reward. So if you need to end your runs at the local frozen yogurt shop, go for it. I might see you there.

run for it

DON’T be too hard on yourself – both physically and mentally. It’s okay to rest if you need it, to walk for a bit if necessary, to go for an easy run on occasion. If every day feels like a nightmarish version of boot camp, the running won’t last very long. If you have a bad run, it doesn’t mean you suck even if the voices in your head are yelling “You are the suckiest runner that has ever graced the earth! You are a disgrace to Nike!” Try to view each run as a step on a long journey, not a heavenly decree of your self-worth.

DON’T quit. Just take a deep breath and tell yourself it will get easier. It. Will. Get. Easier.


The Race: My Time, My Thoughts, And My Unadulterated Hatred of Cold Weather

Today was RACE DAY. It was a painful, cold, demoralizing, cold, sleep-deprived, cold experience. But… it was also kind of awesome.

Let me start at the beginning. Today was the first ever 5K Runway Run at La Guardia Airport. We actually ran on the runway while planes were taking off. Pretty darn cool. Today was also my first race ever in a half-baked effort to become one of those runners other people eye enviously. It’s not going so well but that’s a tale for another time.

I’m not going to sugarcoat this story. At times, I was cursing myself. Like when the alarm went off at 7 a.m. this morning. And when I was standing around shivering my butt off waiting for the race to start. And when I was pushing myself to run as fast as I could towards the finish line even though my lungs were yelling, “I hate you!” And yet, despite all that, I felt a thrill. I felt alive. I felt like I was part of something both silly and special. And, perhaps most importantly, I learned some things.

What did I learn?

When my alarm went off this morning I wanted so desperately to hit the off button and go back to sleep. But then I thought about the legions of loyal readers expecting a detailed blow by blow of my public humiliation. The thought of disappointing you was more painful than crawling out of bed. So crawl out of bed I did. Thank you.


A scary self-portrait

I was not fast. Out of 572 runners, I was #358 – not even average. But I was fast for me. I pushed myself, and it hurt. It hurt a lot. I finally crossed the finish line after 34 minutes and 38 seconds, or a pace of 11:09/mile. Compared to the guy who finished in 16 minutes and 24 seconds, I’m a heaping pile of patheticness, but compared to my normal heaping pile of patheticness, I’m practcially a super hero. Even though my time didn’t actually matter – it’s not like I was trying to set a new PR – the simple act of running in a race made me run faster. And when it was all over, I wondered if I could do better. Don’t hold your breath, but there might be hope for me yet.


Winners on the left; me on the right.

Yes, it certainly does. There were your classic hardcore runners – the folks who darted to the front of the line when the announcer called for all people who plan on running a five minute mile pace or under; the lean runner types whose can fit both their thighs into one of my tree trunks; the guy who looked like he just ran all the way from Kenya and said, “what the heck, I’ll do this race too.” But then there were people who walked the whole thing, parents who brought their kids, a woman who ran the whole race in bunny ears and a puffy tail. And then there was a girl who, despite the cold and the unforgiving wind, wore a sports bra, shorts, and – wait for it – gloves! The point is: It didn’t matter that I felt sluggish or that I had no clue what I was doing. I fit right in.



The pictures speak for themselves.



Another scary self-portrait

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Emphasis on the word NOT. I am definitely not ready. But ready or not, Sunday is race day and I will run/jog/walk 3.1 miles whether I feel like it or not.

[Pause for mental breakdown]

What the frack was I thinking? Have I completely lost all rational thought and sense? I am not a runner. And even when I’m pretending to be a runner, I’m smart enough to give myself several hours and buckets of caffeine to wake up. Running at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning? Um, no. That’s a terrible idea. Actually, that may be the worst idea I’ve ever had, and I’ve had lots of dumb ideas. Like mountain biking in the rain. That was dumb. This is definitely dumber. Oh hell. Welcome to what I’m sure will be a spectacular display of public humiliation.

[End mental breakdown]



Running sneaker

So… this is what happens when you’re admiring photos on your iPhone and don’t pay attention to where you’re walking… right into a puddle of mud. I’m super smart. S-M-R-T.



I went running. And I didn’t want to kill myself. Sure, that may seem like a low bar for some folks, but in my short running career that’s like running a marathon. Go me.

Maybe it was the nighttime breeze. Maybe it was the multiple photo stops I made. Or maybe it was the Running Gods finally smiling upon me. Or maybe… maybe I’m actually getting better; maybe I’ve moved beyond complete and utter suckiness and reached the mediocrity that I’ve aspired to all my life. Nah… That’s just too crazy.

Some photos from my non-sucky, almost-good run:

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Kennedy Center

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Wednesday Rant #3: “Running is Impossible.”

I ran for an hour straight on the treadmill tonight. I feel like this:

P.S. Great episode.

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Another Terrible Run, Another Great Picture

I starting to sense a theme here…

Here’s a great picture from last night’s pathetic three-mile run. I still can’t get over the fact that I took this with my iPhone. One of these days, I need to venture out with my SLR and tripod.

Capitol Reflection

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Random Thoughts on My Running Journey

I’m going to tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was a 16-year-old girl living in a residential Chicago neighborhood who fancied herself something of a tomboy. She played basketball and ran around the backyard pretending to be a ninja. One day, her younger brother set out for a mile-and-a-half run and the girl thought: I can do that; piece of cake. So she lept into step behind him and set off. At the half way point, the girl collapsed on the grass at the corner of Kedzie and Touhy Ave., clutching her stomach, and wheezed: “You, gasp, go, gasp, on, gasp, without, gasp, me.”

That girl was me. True story. And my brother still makes fun of me.

My running journey has progressed considerably since then. Yesterday, I ran a very painful 5.5 miles. On a good day, I can probably run six miles without dying. And if a guy with a gun decides to chase me, I can probably eke out 9-10 miles, so long as he doesn’t run faster than a 12-minute mile.

But I don’t feel like a RUNNER.

  • I want to be one of those people who jumps up in the morning and thinks “Huzzah! I get to go running” instead of “Please, please let it rain so I don’t have to go running.”
  • I want to enjoy the act of putting one foot in front of another at a rapid pace instead of feeling like it’s a chore I’m crossing off my list.
  • I want to feel like I’m flying, not like a stampeding elephant, unless it’s a stampeding elephant with wings. I suppose that would be okay.
Homer Simpson Jogging

This is how I feel

Running Cheetah

This is how I want to feel

I’ve been running on-and-off for nearly three years now, and I’ve definitely made progress. But I don’t feel like a RUNNER. I don’t enjoy running the way I enjoy biking or hiking. I wonder if those people are born. I wonder if there’s a running gene I missed out in the crapshoot that is the gene pool, or if it’s possible to become one of those people one day.

I don’t know. For now, I continue to put one foot in front of the other and pray I don’t humiliate myself in my first 5K race next month.

Baby steps.

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